King Cake: A Humble Story of Food and Reminders

Every once in a while, a moment happens that reminds me that I am still in touch with the universe. Sure, go ahead throw me on to the hippie bus now, or whatever you want to do. But things happen, and I try to stay attune to them. They used to happen a lot more and lately I’ve felt shunned from the powers at be. Not really, but I just haven’t felt that “touch” of magic that life brings with it on special occasions.

Until today. Sure, I’m looking into things. Sure, I’m connecting things that shouldn’t really be connected. Blah, blah, blah, fine. I know. But as promised I blog about the thrills I come across. And call me crazy or delusional, but for whatever reason, in my mind, the magic meter went off and I was stuck telling myself, “there are no coincidences, pay attention, Sarah.”

Okay, I’ll go already.

My grandmother passed away in January. I was close to her. She and my aunt, who passed away suddenly two years ago, used to have a way of looking at life that was just hilarious. They are the last, besides my cousin and mom, part of my mom’s family. To my aunt and my grandmother, everything was funny and fixable. They would say things like, “Be lazy,” or “It’s nap-thirty.” Coming from the woods of Louisiana, you can only imagine. They were each civilized women with a backwoods past. Let’s say they kept their southern charm with them, always. I mean that endearing, btw.

Anyways, I miss them. And, coincidentally enough I had a dream about them last weekend. My aunt was on Friday night, and my grandmother on Saturday night. Basically not to make a big deal of it I saw my aunt as an angel. I know, who believes in angels? I don’t know. And truly she just was glowing, so I don’t know… maybe my brain was just getting creative in my sleep. For all I knew she just came out of a Chernobyl pool. But from where I saw things, she looked glowy, and beautiful.

Saturday, I saw my grandmother. She was haunting me actually — in a good way, okay. I would fall asleep and hear her, and then wake up and look around, and fall asleep and hear her again. It was truly bizarre and so frustrating. In one of my dreams actually, I asked, “Nanna is that you?” and she replied, “you guessed it right!” She was full of energy and truly bouncing all around — I felt like she was playing a game of Rumpelstiltskin . So I am like, “where are you?” and she says, “guess.” And I say, “Are you in the chair?” Because there is this looming chair right by the bed that is the size / shape of a person in the dark and terrifies me if I look at it in the middle of the night in the wrong light. And in my dream I heard her laugh and make an inappropriate joke that only she could come up with, “Now, why would I be in the chair when I could be in the bed next to you two, snuggling with you guys?” Annnnd, there you have it. I was in fact sleeping in my boyfriend’s bed and in my dream, my grandmother was aware of it and giving me shit for it. I woke up, looked over to the space next to me (opposite of the boyfriend), and, of course, no one was there.

Needless to say I was somewhat terrified. I wanted to laugh and like, sit in the closet and hide for 10 hours all at the same time. I felt her presence so strongly. I didn’t get much sleep for two nights after that. Nanna… she’s always been mischievous.

Well, the week that followed was hell. Okay, not really. I became disappointed with many aspects of my life. I had to face things that I didn’t really know were coming to a head. I can’t believe how some elements of my life have unfolded. I looked at lost friendships, angry people, my finances, a few other things that were just troubling or disappointing — and believe you-me, I know many of them usually are a result of, well, me or my own actions. At one point I prayed for something to give a little. I needed some grace from the negative energy I was wrapped up in. I needed a break from things making me sad. Because normally, I’m very happy.

I was at my boyfriend’s all week because my roommate was sick and since my roommate and I share a room it was a valid health measure. And, luckily, the boyfriend makes me happy even when I’m sad. When he can tell something is wrong he won’t stop hugging me unless I cry. I spent almost three years of my life not shedding a tear. I was angry and refused to acknowledge emotions. So now there is like a bank of tears and I have no problem letting them out. Now, I cry at the drop of a hat, and I let myself. I’m actually a strong individual, so it took a lot for me to let that go. Anyways, now if my boyfriend knows I am sad, and he gives me a hug and I don’t cry… he knows something is really wrong and that I want to cry, so he gives an extra squeeze and I fight it and then just release it. Haha I guess, in its own way, it’s its own kind of therapy. After tears, I’m pretty quick at recovery.

Anyways, so I’m like sulking, clearly. I haven’t seen the sun in like months. It’s freezing in New York, still. I started my period. I’m out of money.  I’m dealing with issues on most fronts. And I go to work, pretty much just waiting for something to put me in a good mood. Like, anything.

If you need to know one thing about me, know that people make me very happy. All kinds of people, but particularly nice people.

So I go to make my new favorite lunch, an egg sandwich. It’s mayo, an egg, and low-fat wheat bread. I know, horrible. But I love it, my grandfather used to eat mayo and bread, and now my mom does it, and now I do it. It was a New Orleans thing I am told.

I’m making my sandwich and my company’s Janitor/ Mr.Fix-it comes into the break room. He looks like he saw a ghost. He’s stunned. He starts telling me this story about how the woman who came to fix our hot water machine (… that was broken all week), was actually a relative of his. They found this out through conversation about the machine (not sure how that evolved though) that they are cousins. I’m like what? You met a long lost relative today? Dear God that is exciting. I look at him and wonder why he isn’t jumping up and down. And we discuss that for a while and then he gets into his family from New Orleans and it’s all very interesting and at some point I want to tell him I have roots there, but I don’t. Until he brings up my sandwich.

“Oh mayo and bread, huh?” And at first I am alarmed because I have been politely borrowing someone else’s mayo in the fridge all week. And so I thought the mayo was his and he all the sudden he was going to like go nutso on me and tell my boss and then I would be the girl who was fired over mayo. But no, he found it amusing and told me he loves mayo and bread, and that his family has that tradition of eating mayo and bread, but he has never seen someone else like it. And so I tell him I actually have roots in NOLA too and he laughs and we talk about it for a bit and go our separate ways. I tell him I am thrilled he met his cousin today, because I am for whatever reason. I thought it was cool, and for a few minutes I got to think and talk about my family from Louisiana. I miss them, and on occasions they haunt me, so NBD, but it’s fun to think about when they were here in real life and not haunting my dreams.

I leave, go to my desk and go grab tea in the secret break room only the marketing department can use. Much to my surprise I walk in and see that an anonymous person left a king cake and plates for everyone. If you don’t know what that is, you are not alone. It is a New Orleans tradition. But this king cake was just sitting there. Like, hey here is a king cake. “Here I am, your kiiing cake.” And I can hear someone from above say, “here’s you’r sign yah dipsh*t.”

The only king cakes I have seen in the last few years are the ones in NOLA ( while I was there for my grandmother’s funeral) and this one in my office, in New York, around people who don’t know what it is. It turns out it was sent to us by “a friend from the south.” I am sure this friend is a salesman or vendor. But I found it odd two different events in a total of about 10 minutes would tie me back to my roots so quickly. I looked up and wondered if my aunt and grandmother were sitting there on their clouds or what not, looking down and laughing about how freaked out my face looked when I walked into the secret break room. I know they are sitting there telling me to lighten up. So, I will.

Cheers to 2014

As I sit here I am crouched on the floor of the New Orleans airport. I have three hours to waste which is great, because I am very much looking forward to sitting at the bar and downing a Bloody Mary. However due to my own sense of messed up righteousness I must at least wait until 11am. So, I’m going to write. This makes me nervous because it has been a while. I am about to spill on here, which is a healthy binge for me, but all of you who have a subscription to this thing, sorry for the novel. Also, just so I can let it rest, keep in mind I am writing this on an iPad and am therefore exempt from all typo judgements. Insert “Sent From my iPad” here. Yay, thanks.

Good God this month, and year for that matter, has been a weird one. It has turned from 2013-2014. I have turned 26. I have celebrated a year dating anniversary with my former best friend. I am also celebrating my 7th month in New York City. I survived being unemployed for 4 months – 2 of them in New York. I have heard people tell me “no” for the last 7 months and my morale is still relatively high considering. I saw my first Broadway play. I went to Italy and despite the panic attack on the plane ride there, I made it and even made it back. Surprise. I got a job. For all it is worth, I got a small raise this month. I have learned to live away from my family which sucks and is difficult but rewarding in its own way. I have learned how to stay connected and when to cut ties.

Also, this weekend my grandmother passed away. This is why I am in New Orleans. I have a tribute to her I will post here. This month though particularly as I reflect, has felt like I’ve been hit by the wave we call life. I am more aware of it. I do feel older. I’ve learned so much in just this year. It wasn’t easy to come by, I’ve cried more this year than I believe I ever have — this includes happy tears and sad ones, anxious tears and mad ones… I truly just let them flow. I have pointlessly worried, now I realize that. I have learned how to cope with heart burn and indigestion. I’ve learned how to rock a bod that does not look like a magazine cover, and wear less makeup. I kind of have just learned to do whatever the hell I want. No, I’m kidding -sort of. There has been some of that, but not really. I’ve learned how to play this year, because for the last few years I had forgotten to keep that playful side of me. I’ve learned how to borrow money, and spend money. I’ve learned how to pay it back. I’ve learned how to be sober… I’ve been off adderall for six months, which deserves a blog post of its own. I’ve learned how to stop smoking.

Let me just tell you this time last year I was in Oklahoma City with a failing company, and lost sense of direction. I was parking in the church parking lot by my house and calling distant friends to cope with a breakup and new life options while drinking box wine and smoking cigarettes. I am not claiming my direction has improved all that much but at least I am somewhere else. This time last year I was terrified. Truly terrified of where my life was going.

Then, I developed a fear of just about everything when I moved to New York. It’s funny now, the way my legs almost would start shaking when I was riding on the elevator to the 44th floor of the place I was staying. I was like what happens when this thing drops? If i jump when it hits the ground will I live? I was scared of earthquakes, fires, terrorists, floods, robbers, carbon monoxide, you name it I wasted time thinking about it. Somehow my brain slipped into crazy survivor mode. I was so distracted by it I am surprised I didn’t get hit by a bus because I wasn’t paying attention crossing the street. But, however crazy it was… I moved to New York knowing about two people — making friends… losing friends… all of the above. I was here chasing a dream of writing, and a boy. Oh, I was also scared of tunnels, subways tracks, escalators… you name it. This is all new for me, because in the past I was fearless. Nothing mattered really enough for me to be scared. I had a naive grasp of life and became aware of it this year, and now I am coping with it. I see how truly fragile we all are. So that is really what the problem was. I worked through most of it… Still trying to get past this fear of flying… But baby steps. I feel string, even though it hurt a bit to get here. It’s like I jumped with a leap of faith, and now I’m landing.

The news of my grandmother really hit me hard. You think you are prepared for something but when a death happens, it just creates this hole you weren’t expecting. It’s hard to be sad… noone wants to be around you and vice versa. It’s hard to see your family sad and know you cant do anything about it. The only thing I could think of after I heard the news was about how short life is. The only reason we continue as race is because we keep passing the torch, but in the end we all start as dust, exist as dust, and end as dust. It’s sort of a troubling thought that could easily lead you to thinking nothing matters. But my patient, kind and wise boyfriend told me I was like eating a gourmet meal and concerning myself about when it was over instead of focusing on how it tastes. Thank God he said that. He is right. But it’s hard when you have so much you want to do. I want to solve world peace damnit. I am 26 and can barely find matching sox… How am I ever going to leave a verse. I haven’t even started with what I want to do. Well, I have sort of started, but I feel like other people already were more along in the process you now? I guess that is what everyone says.

That bring said, I have to think about the strides I have made this year and what I have learned. I have learned to call out my emotions for what they are, and how to manage feeling guilty or anxious for no reason at all. I’ve learned patience, and how to be in the moment. I’ve learned that to satisfy this huger I have for life and a career… That it won’t happen over night, and that I can’t really control where I end up. I would’ve never known that I would be in New York this time last year. If someone (a soothsayer obviously) would’ve told me that I was going to be here, I would’ve told them that liars go to hell. Okay, I probably just would have thought they were nuts and asked for my money back.

I am learning to trust this process. To forgive and to move on. I’m learning how to understand and sympathize. I’m learning how to not just give, but to accept. I’m learning how to float, and to only fight the stream of ordinary when it’s advantageous and not just for the hell of it.

I am extremely grateful for this year and for everyone who has gotten me through it. Thank you a million times. I am so lucky. Here is to another year, and more lessons :). Here is to new life and to this Bloody Mary I’m about to drink.

Happy Veteran’s Day


On a day like this, I usually try not to think about it. I don’t like to get into war. I don’t like to think about how many men and women have died in its zealous shadow. More than that, I don’t like to think about the cause that propelled them to care enough to sacrifice their own lives. Because it had to have been horrible. People had to have been suppressed somewhere in the world, for them to have been there — for the US to become involved. Of course that is not the only reason we invade places, but I like to think it’s the reason why citizens become soldiers, to help other people. Veteran’s Day makes me feel like one extremely selfish person. Not to mention cowardly. It is a travesty how many loved ones have been lost. There are no words to describe the feeling of gratitude that someone has toward a person who has protected them. If not for actual protection, at least for the feeling of having it.

Although I have considered it in multiple points of my life, I have never been in the armed services. However, my grandpa, Papa Nick, was. He was a Marine. I wear his Marine bracelet proudly. I found his bracelet shortly after my aunt passed away, and I was digging through the family things she left behind. I never met my grandpa. Actually that’s a lie. He died very shortly after I was born from lung cancer, but according to my mom he used to take me and my sister (we are twins) when we were wee little things, and he would hold us, one in each arm, and take us into his bedroom and nap with us. I like to think he told us all the secrets he learned, that he told me how to dig deep and be brave. He told me the only kind of guy he would accept to be my husband, and promised me he wouldn’t let anything harm us. It is so odd how even now I feel him. I feel him all the time. When I was little I used to think about him watching over me when I was going through something hard, and I would hold out my hand, and I swear I could feel him hold my hand back. 

This grew into writing letters. I write my grandfather letters all the time. I used to do so more when I was younger. I would write him and then rip up the letter into a million pieces and say a prayer and then throw it out the window — to the wind and to his spirit. At the time I didn’t realize I was littering. Now, I don’t rip them up and throw them to the wind. Later on, my great-grandfather, Raymond Atherton, on my step-dad’s side (who has turned into a wise, grandfather-like figure) would pass away, and eventually I started writing letters to both of them. My “grandad” as we called him, was alive long enough for me to know him. I will never forget his hugs and his smile. He laughed so much. He helped coach me through those tough years of adolescence. He hugged me without any questions and set the bar for father-figures in my family. 

They were both World War II veterans. I know that Ray was in the Navy, and I heard him only tell positive stories from his time at war, although my great-grandmother tells me his experience was all but positive. I see him as so wise and kind, I can’t imagine him at war. He must have hated it. 

My Papa Nick flew a Corsair fighter plane. In a picture he has next to it, the plane has a giant pelican caricature flexing his muscles with a fighter jacket on. Next to it was written, “The Ragin’ Cajun,” his nick-name. I wear his Marine bracelet every day. But I think about it the most when I fly. I might not be flying the plane, but I like to thing my grandpa is up there behind the wheel ensuring I land safely. 

To the men and women who have dedicated their lives to fighting for the United States of America and everything it symbolizes. I don’t deserve to wear this bracelet, but it reminds me every day of the price people pay for the freedoms we have. I extend to you a thank you. Thank you for your time, and your bravery. Thank you for your sacrifice.